His shoes sit by the front door, just like he left them. Jason was the kind of person who lit up a room the minute he walked into it, and made friends everywhere he went. Jason always went out of his way to helps others, whether they were his friends or were living on the street. He made a special effort to make everyone feel important. He was generous, kind, caring, talented, and ambitious. Jason died in May 2016, and life has not been the same without him.
Jason was more than his addiction. He was a passionate person--every skill he fell in love with, he mastered. From skateboarding to playing guitar, Jason was an outstanding talent. He listened to every imaginable genre, and never felt shame blasting Tegan and Sara or Rilo Kiley (and would never shame you for your taste, style, or interests). Jason loved deeply, and had a keen sense of self that was unaffected by the opinions of others. It is impossible to forget a soul as bright as Jason’s. Jason is fondly remembered by his co-workers at Long and McQuade where he was working when he died. I remember waiting for Jason one day when I was picking him up, being approached by one of Jason’s older work colleagues, who said: “You know, everyone likes that kid because he brings such a spark to the work place. He is so helpful and willing to help. You should be proud, you raised a great kid.”
Have you ever met someone who made you immediately feel comfortable, welcome, and loved? That was Jason. He exuded warmth and love, but there is no denying that he struggled personally. Jason’s drug of choice was Ketamine. We had known about his substance-use issues for roughly 7 years. Ketamine is currently being tested as a promising treatment to relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, and we believe he used it in this way. In the picture, you will see Jason’s little bunny that he so dearly cherished as a small child, and kept even as he moved into adulthood. Bunny was always by his side on his pillow when he was young. Jason loved to skateboard, and his well worn skateboard is in the picture as are his favorite sunglasses. His shoes still have the mud on them. Jason was a wise young man, and he would want everyone to remember that life is short, so treat every day as if it’s your last, and always treat others as if it will be their last.
Street Health is pleased to be part of Twenty/Twenty Arts Weathered photography exhibition. Our thanks to everyone who shared photo memorials of family members and friends who have died from overdose. Your photos are a powerful statement that more must be done to prevent these overdose deaths that are killing an average of 55 Ontarians each week.
Street Health’s Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) is a part of the effort to save lives.
We provide service to those who are experiencing homelessness and stigma in Toronto’s south east region. The Ontario Government eliminated funding for this site in March, 2019. Since that time numerous individuals, family foundation and community groups have been instrumental in maintaining this service. Your donation as part of the Weathered campaign is vital to maintain this site in the coming year.